Washington D.C. (July 30, 2015) – Advocates behind the viral campaign “Operation: #FaxBigBrother” today announced that concerned Internet users have generated more than 6.1 million facsimiles opposing S. 754, the Cybersecurity Information Sharing Act (CISA.) The faxes, sent because Congress is “stuck in 1984,” will be constantly flooding into U.S. Senate offices in the coming days, encouraging members to vote against a bill that experts say will fail to prevent cyber attacks like the OPM hacks and allow for exponentially more government surveillance.
The faxed messages were generated by Internet users visiting two websites as part of a “Week of Action” against CISA: www.faxbigbrother.com and www.stopcyberspying.com, using technology developed by Fight for the Future, which is currently running the entire operation out of their CTO Jeff Lyon’s attic. The fax blasting set-up involves a dedicated server and a dozen phone lines and modems capable of sending tens of thousands of faxes per day. (See photos of the FaxRobot here.)
“The Internet is clearly pissed off that Congress is trying to pass off a blatant surveillance bill as ‘cybersecurity’” said Tiffiniy Cheng, Co-Founder and Co-Director of Fight for the Future. “We’ve defeated information sharing bills like CISA over and over again. Congress should stop embarrassing themselves and listen to the experts who say we need better security, not more spying.”
Leadership previously made clear their intent to pass the bill before the summer work period. After intense opposition during the week of action, that is no longer certain.
“The Senate may be stuck in 1984, but we’ll make sure they get the message one way or another,” said Nathan White, senior legislative manager at Access. “If we are able to derail this bill it’s a big win for our right to privacy. Senate leadership made it clear that they intended to pass the bill before recess. The failure to do so, in the face of public opposition during the week of action, would be a clear failure for CISA.”
Also this week, a letter in opposition to CISA was signed by 68 organizations and security researchers, and dozens of groups have written blogs and public statements, collated at www.stopcyberspying.com.
“With millions of faxes queued up to be sent to Congress, there is clearly an incredible amount of opposition to CISA. The Senate ought to take this sign into consideration when deciding on whether to proceed with CISA. Otherwise there’s likely to be a paper shortage on the Hill shortly,” said Ryan Hagemann, Civil Liberties Policy Analyst at the Niskanen Center.
“Civil libertarians finally figured out that we needed to speak to Congress at their technical level – so we’ve sent them 6 million faxes explaining why their cybersecurity ideas are antiquated and their lack of technological acumen so remarkably dangerous,” stated Sascha Meinrath, Director of X-Lab.
The Operation: #FaxBigBrother week of action was organized by Fight for the Future, Access, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, with support from a dozen diverse privacy and civil liberties groups including the ACLU, American Library Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Constitution Project. Association of Research Libraries, Niskanen Center, Free Press, The X-Lab, Sunlight Foundation, and Media Alliance.
The National Security Agency is sitting on a new surveillance
apparatus, awaiting congressional action to help them begin collecting a
massive amount of new data on people in the U.S. that they can view and
share without a warrant.
According to documents
made available to the press by Edward Snowden, in 2012 the Department
of Justice secretly approved the NSA to begin using cyber threat
indicators as selector terms for conducting “upstream” surveillance, a
technique that involves the use of interception equipment to pull
information directly from the switches and cables that make up the
Internet. It’s likely, however, that the NSA hasn’t had a lot of cyber
threat information to work with up to this point; most of that
information is held by private companies.
Now it appears that Congress may be ready to help the NSA get the
information they need to finally crank up their cybersecurity
surveillance system. The Senate this week is expected to take up a bill,
the Cyber Information Sharing Act
(CISA, formerly known as CISPA), that would incentivize companies to liberally share “cyber
threat indicators” with the Department of Homeland Security by granting
them legal immunity from any surveillance laws when they do so.
The companies would be allowed to leave their users’ personal details
in the information they give to the government unless they
affirmatively know that it is not directly related to a threat, and the
DHS would be required to share all of the information with the NSA and
other federal agencies.
But that’s just the beginning of how CISA would massively violate privacy.
Any information shared with the government under CISA could be used to turn on the NSA’s latent cybersecurity surveillance powers.
As revealed by the Snowden documents, cyber threat indicators can be
used by the NSA as selectors to target the warrantless interception and
collection of information from the Internet backbone. These selectors —
things like email address, IP addresses, ranges of IP addresses, phone
numbers, or strings of computer code — are used as filters to select and
extract data from Internet traffic.
Importantly, any “incidental” data that is picked up along the way
that is not directly related to the threat, including any and all
personal data that is hacked or targeted as part of the cyber threat,
can be indefinitely retained by the NSA. This could be a massive amount
of data if a threat involves a company like Google, Bank of America, or
of the FISA Amendments Act, which the government uses to authorize its
upstream collection programs, allows the NSA to retain, share, and use
information about U.S. persons related to criminal investigations,
including (but not limited to) those involving cybersecurity crimes.
The NSA, FBI, and other law enforcement entities are allowed to query
the databases that are assembled under Section 702 at will using U.S.
persons identifiers (e.g. email addresses and phone numbers of people
who live in the U.S.) to access communications that can be used in
criminal investigations. This is the warrantless process that has become
known as the “backdoor search loophole.” All of this can be done
without a warrant under Section 702 because that law was supposed to
only be used to investigate foreign suspects.
There’s no way to know exactly how much CISA will expand the NSA’s
ability to collect and query data on Americans’ communications, but the
leaked documents suggest that the cyber threats shared under CISA will
help them add a major new plank to their activities that they have
lobbying for for years. The broad legal immunity provisions in CISA
should help the NSA get a huge amount information to input into the
system from a wide range of data-rich industries, including insurers,
banks, casinos, telecoms, hospitals, airlines, and more that have
already announced their support for the bill.
Contact: Evan Greer, Fight for the Future 978-852-6457, firstname.lastname@example.org
Operation: #FaxBigBrother––Internet activists are sending MILLIONS of faxes to Congress to oppose CISA spying bill
“Congress is stuck in 1984 and clearly doesn’t understand modern technology” so civil liberties groups are resorting to the fax machine
Washington, DC––More than a dozen privacy and civil liberties groups have joined together for an unconventional protest this week, helping Internet users send hundreds of thousands of faxes to the U.S. Senate opposing CISA, the Cyber Information Sharing Act.
The groups have launched two websites, FaxBigBrother.com and StopCyberSpying.com, which allow concerned members of the public to send a good old-fashioned facsimile to every member of the Senate with just one click. The coalition has also built a tool that automatically turns the contents every tweet with the hashtag #FaxBigBrother into a fax sent to the Senate.
The week of action launched yesterday, and already more than 6 MILLION faxes are queued up to flood fax machines on Capitol Hill. Each fax is sent to all 100 members of the Senate. .
“Cybersecurity experts agree that CISA won’t stop cyberattacks like the OPM hacks, but Congress is stuck in 1984 and clearly doesn’t understand modern technology,” said Evan Greer, campaign director of Fight for the Future, the group that developed the faxing tool, “They’ve received millions of emails and phone calls from concerned citizens opposing bills like CISA that grant companies sweeping legal immunity to share our private data with the government; maybe using technology as outdated as their thinking will help them finally get the message.”
“CISA is a mass surveillance bill dressed up as a cybersecurity bill,” added Fight for the Future CTO Jeff Lyon, “It’s a blatant end-run around the Constitution and essentially legalizes all forms of government and corporate spying, putting giant companies like Facebook and Google above the law and allowing them to do almost anything they want with our personal information.”
The week of action, entitled “Operation: Fax Big Brother,” is being organized by Fight for the Future, Access, and the Electronic Frontier Foundation, with support from more than a dozen groups from both the left and the right including the ACLU, American Library Association, National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Freedom of the Press Foundation, Constitution Project. Association of Research Libraries, Niskanen Center, Free Press, The X-Lab, Sunlight Foundation, and Media Alliance.
The technology behind the #FaxBigBrother tool was developed by Jeff Lyon. Using a dedicated server and phone lines running out of his attic, the Fax Robot system is capable of continuously flooding Congress with thousands of faxes.
Fight for the Future is a digital rights group best known for organizing massive online protests against SOPA and for net neutrality. They were also behind Reset the Net, the largest online campaign against mass surveillance, which was endorsed by Edward Snowden and thousands of tech companies. Learn more at FightFortheFuture.org or on Twitter at @fightfortheftr
Pressing news: U.S. Congress is rushing toward a vote on CISA (formerly called CISPA), the worst spying bill yet.1
CISA would give giant Internet companies like Google and Facebook total legal immunity to do almost anything they want with our data. Why? So that the government can pressure these companies to share even more of our personal information with spy agencies like the NSA.2
Congress has tried this before. Four times! Every time we’ve managed to defeat CISA-like legislation at the last minute. This time, though, the prospects are looking grim.
Defense contractors and big banks are pouring money into lobbying and using recent news like the OPM hacks to spread fear and misinformation. Worse, President Obama is signaling that he’ll sign CISA if it ends up on his desk, even though security experts say it will do nothing to prevent cyber attacks.3
Privacy groups have sent millions of emails and tens of thousands of phone calls to DC opposing this but they still aren’t listening. We need to get creative.
So, since Congress seems to be stuck in 1984 and clearly doesn’t understand modern technology, we’re building a robot that can send them thousands upon thousands of… FAXES.
For every $5 that Fight for the Future members contribute, we can send 1,500 faxes to Congress from Internet users explaining why they oppose CISA!
Congress doesn’t get a whole lot of faxes. If enough people chip in, we can break their all-time record and send Congress more faxes than they’ve ever seen before. Our action tool will make sending a fax as easy as signing a petition — and a lot more powerful. It’s going to be awesome.
The vote is going to be close. But if we go big right now we could stop CISA once and for all.
Next week we’ll be working with tons of groups on a week of action to stop this dangerous bill and our fax-machine-attack-robot will be at the center of it. Our goal is to overwhelm Congress with faxes, but we can only do it if enough people donate.
WASHINGTON, DC — Moments ago, the U.S. Senate voted to advance Fast Track Trade Promotion Authority. The 60-37 motion sets up a final vote tomorrow that is almost certain to pass, which will then send the bill to President Obama’s desk to become law. Fast Track makes it virtually certain that the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Trade in Services Agreement (TISA), and other secret trade deals will become law.
Fight for the Future, an Internet-freedom nonprofit best known for their role organizing massive online protests around SOPA, online privacy, and net neutrality, issued the following statement, which can be attributed to Holmes Wilson, Director of Fight for the Future.
“Today, the Senate chose to completely ignore the public and advance Fast Track anyway. People from across the political spectrum spoke out in overwhelming numbers against Fast Track because they know that when the government acts in secret, with only corporate lobbyists to advise them, the results are always terrible.”
“These trade deals are written by government bureaucrats and corporate lobbyists behind closed doors, and now neither Congress nor the the public will have any meaningful ability to debate them. A simple yes or no vote with 30 days of review after a multi-year secret negotiation process isn’t public oversight– it’s a farce.”
“These secret deals are about getting big, entrenched industries everything they want that they couldn’t get passed in the open. The Trans-Pacific Partnership is an MPAA lobbyist’s dream bill for exporting America’s worst copyright laws to the rest of the world, filled with bits and pieces of all the bills that they couldn’t get passed in Congress.”
“We’re disappointed. We’d hoped that 2015 would be the year when we’d finally stop the lobbyists behind SOPA and PIPA from passing Internet policy in secret, through trade deals. They won this round, but the loophole that trade agreements give lobbying groups for passing policy in secret remains an insane insult to democracy. We’ll close it someday.”
Fight for the Future is a digital rights nonprofit that has driven more than 170,000 emails and more than 18,000 phone calls to Congress opposing Fast Track in the last two months, rallied more than 7,500 websites for an online protest, and helped coordinate a letter to Congress from more than 250 tech companies expressing transparency and tech related concerns about Fast Track legislation.